I’ve been meaning to talk about the new Documentum Developer Edition for a while now. I’ve referred to it in previous posts and twittered about it. More recently, Marko over at Big Men on Content has talked about the benefits of freely available ECM platforms for development and proof-of-concepts. I thought some spare vacation time, and the release of the 6.5 sp2 version, was a perfect time to write-up my thoughts.
To start with, ABOUT TIME!!! Okay, that may be a little strong, but in the age of open source and when Microsoft and Oracle have been offering developer editions of their core products for years this was way overdue. If you want the developer pool to grow, which is one of the major costs of a large-scale deployment, you need to allow them to use the tools. There are lots of independent consultants out there that have trouble keeping-up with the technology because they can’t afford to become partners for the requisite fee. The Developer Edition makes it easier on them (and harder on me, but that is another post) to deliver into the market.
What You Get from EMC
Well, to put it simply, you get what I call the core of Documentum. You get the Content Server, Webtop, Administrator, and Composer. The Content Server includes the XML Store. All very critical. This will let someone develop a Documentum application, complete with basic interface configurations and customizations. That is just what people need. All you need to do is install Java 5 with a web browser plug-in and you are set.
It even comes bundled with SQL Server 2005 Developer, so no database is required. That being said, I would seriously recommend installing SQL Server Developer 2005 sp3 on your own so that you can place it on a separate box and have the latest service pack. The Developer Edition of SQL Server does not readily upgrade to sp3.
The other reason for installing SQL Server separately is resources. The complete Development install calls for 3GB of RAM (after a 1.7+GB download). That is no small thing for a development laptop. It needs to be on a newer machine. If you can move the database service to a different box, that will make your life easier.
There is a unique service created in Windows called “Documentum Master Service”. This is something I want to see in production systems. It automatically stops all the services in the proper order. Better yet, if you used the bundled SQL Server, which I just recommended against, it also stops and starts it as well. Very cool for those Developers that just want Documentum to work and don’t care about the details.
You can’t really change any settings when as you install the system, so you aren’t going to gain experience on that front, but you do get a working Documentum system. It took me about 30 minutes to install into my VM. After that, I re-ran Windows update and I was done. I could change many settings behind the scenes if I wanted since I know how, but what would be the point? I just want it to work.
What You Need from EMC
Nothing is perfect, and what EMC has given us is no different than the rest of the world. They have done a great job to get this out and it is a great Stage One. It is simple and it works. They could do a few more things to make life easier for those without real development labs…
- Provide More Deployment Options: Let us decide if we want to install everything at one time. Maybe to conserve resources I want to through Webtop and/or DA on another computer. Maybe I don’t want to deploy Webtop as I won’t be changing the interface and can work through Administrator. Maybe give the option of deploying DA & Webtop in a standalone JBoss instead of within the Java Method Server. Given the required resources, allowing users to spread the pain would be nice. Naming the database would also be nice.
- Support Upgrades: Did you catch how to upgrade from the 6.5sp1 version to 6.5sp2? Uninstall and reinstall. It needs to be a clean sweep. Craig offers some tips on the process that are worth reading. It can all be done, but you have to archive all your customizations and reinstall them. That makes sense logically, but if you miss something, it is gone.
- Eliminate Directory Issues: Allow us to install from any directory. When my installation package was in a directory with spaces in the name, if failed and I had to restart. It was simple for me to resolve, but how hard would it be to make it a non-issue?
- Simplify Password Hell: We can use default passwords or set our own. How about an option to use the same, custom, password for all settings so I don’t have to type the same password 6 times. If you get more complex than “admin”, errors occur. The interface does a good job at quickly validating the passwords, but I’d still like to limit my entries.
- Provide Separate Composer Install: Make Composer separate. It is a simple packaged install. Don’t make me have to install it all just to get a copy of Composer installed as a developer.